Saturday, January 2, 2010

Shooting in Raw format and making it work

I have always assumed that when I set my camera to shoot in medium size Jpeg+Raw, both the Jpeg and Raw files are recorded at medium resolution, thereby helping me to keep the file sizes small. Well, I've just found out that I was wrong. While the Jpeg file varies between different settings, the corresponding Raw file remains at maximum resolution all the time. Since the Raw file is several times larger than the corresponding Jpeg file, if the camera has very large resolution, all the Raw files will be huge no matter what size you set (I am assuming all cameras work the same way for Raw).

I am now changing my workflow to just shoot in Raw and forget about wondering whether to set at maximum resolution for a potentially winning shot, or set to small resolution to preserve hard disk space. After the shoot, I use Lightroom to view my photos and make minor tweaks. Finally I "export" all the images into the Jpeg resolution of my choice, and keep only those Raw files that are worth keeping. This work flow would be tedious in Photoshop. Using Lightroom, I was able to tweak about 1,500 Raw files from 8 different shoots in about 2 hours. The tweakings were just on minor cropping, straightening, white balance, exposure, and fill light. I also selected certain Raw files to keep, and deleted off 95% of the unwanted Raw files. I am very pleased with this work flow, and I am very pleased with what Lightroom can do to facilitate this work flow.

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